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REVIEW: BURNOUT at North Shields Laurels Theatre

‘Your bamboo toothbrush won’t save us, you don’t recycle it anyways!’

ShyBairn Theatre presents


North Shields Laurels Theatre

Until 25 March 2023

Written by Nicole Acquah

Directed by Caitlin Evans

Performed by Lekhani Chirwa and Chloe Wade

Our first visit to the Whitley Bay theatre was to see a tale about environmental activism in a Cumbrian town that is subject to regular flooding. The show is heading on tour, including June dates at Newcastle's Live Theatre.

Teenager Amara (Lekhani Chirwa) has been sent out on an errand for some milk when she stumbles over an environmental protest which is led by confident Bridgette (Chloe Wade) -  "one of them, ‘hippy, green, save-the-planet’ things." Bridgette became aware that Amara is watching her and she decides to invite her across to a local meeting.

In this two handed production the two actors finding themselves covering other characters - including Bridgette's old and new bosses at the pub that she works at. The pub is also the venue for her climate group meetings. The new boss is happy for the group to continue meetings when they take over the pub but there is a clear expectation that the attendees buy drinks. They also want to attend with some of their friends as they have been involved in protests in the past. Bridgette was taken back with they first meet the boss about how smooth the hands were on the new boss. In other words - these were hands belonging to someone who had not done a hard days graft in their life. In other words - someone who has only experienced privilege to match their plummy accent. It is not long before the toffs assume the lead. The play then explores how things frustratingly change as the focus moves from the effects of the floods to token gestures such as bamboo toothbrushes.

At this point I note that I am a Doc wearing, plant eating user of a bamboo toothbrush! It didn't help that the actor was looking straight at me as I they were delivering these lines!

The performance is energetic, Chloe Wade is really bouncing as the activist. It was also pleasing to hear naturally northern accents on this northern story. Lekhani Chirwa succeeded in assuming other roles as the show demanded.

The content of the show is thought provoking. Have certain organisations been taken over by those who assume control? Do we tend to doff our caps too quickly to those with more rounded accents? Why are we in the mess that we are in? Does recycling my bottles actually solve the problem?  

There are opportunities for some fun participation, if you want to, but no one was put in a position that they did not want to be in.

This is a great fringe show and, with its one hour running time, I could imagine it doing well in the festivals. It was worth the trip to the seaside to watch it.

Review: Stephen Oliver

Photos: Tom Johnson


Laurels Theatre,

212 Whitley Rd, Whitley Bay NE26 2TA

Saturday 25 March | 6pm

Theatre by The Lake

Lakeside, Lake Rd, Keswick CA12 5DJ

Tuesday 30 May | 7.30pm (Relaxed Performance), then Post Show Q&A (TBC)

Wednesday 31 May | 7.30pm

Live Theatre

27-29 Broad Chare, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3DQ

Friday 2 June & Saturday 3 June

South Street Arts Centre,

21 South St, Reading RG1 4QU

Wednesday 7 June | 7.30pm, then Post Show Q&A

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